County Board Adopts 2013 Balanced Budget
The County Board approved a $485 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2013 that is $2.6 million less than last year’s budget, and $19.4 million less than it was in 2009 (prior to the recession).
In an effort to reduce the tax burden on property taxpayers, the County Board voted to freeze the property tax levy for existing properties. What that means is that under state law, local governments can levy the same as the previous year, plus the CPI (consumer price index), or 5%, whichever is less. The Board could have increased the tax levy by 3% (this year’s CPI, or $4.4 million), but voted to not take that amount. It’s important to remember though that Lake County’s portion of the tax bill is only 7%. The rest goes to other taxing bodies including: cities/villages, townships, and schools (which get the biggest piece – 68%).
Watch County Update:
The Lake County Board adheres to strong budget policies that have allowed the County to manage challenging times, maintain fiscal stability, and help protect the long-term fiscal health of the County. For example, the County has implemented efficiencies and new technology that have helped cut personnel costs (the biggest piece of the budget).
Lake County has also wisely invested in its infrastructure, both physical and technological, saving and planning for big projects in order to preserve these critical assets for the long-term.
For example, the 2013 budget provides funding for the courts expansion project, which includes adding new courtrooms and renovating existing courtrooms to address a space shortage, meet increased demand for the next several decades, and allow for more efficient delivery of justice.
The County has saved for this and is paying for the project using one-third cash, and bonding the rest. The full amount of the bond payment is in the 2013 budget. Borrowing less provides a significant savings over the long-term and keeps debt service to less than 3% of the total budget.
Several years ago, the County Board made a commitment to invest in our transportation infrastructure dedicating the full ¼ cent sales tax to improving transportation—consistent with the County Board’s strategic goal to improve our transportation system. Over the next five years, the County Board will spend $557 million toward transportation.
Also, the County’s investment in energy conservation is producing positive results. The County’s utility budget is down by $1.3 million from last year.
Lake County continues to maintain AAA bond rating —the highest credit rating possible — from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. This is an indication of the County Board’s strong track record of fiscal responsibility.
Where does the money come from?
Only about 1/3 of our budget comes from property taxes. The rest comes from sales and income taxes, and miscellaneous sources like grants, charges for services, (fees, like water bills), and from payments from other governments. Miscellaneous revenue includes fines, permits, forfeitures, rentals, interest income, and proceeds from the sale of assets.
Where does the money go?
The County’s budget allocates funds for a multitude of different services, including: court functions, the jail, law enforcement, healthcare, elections, planning and economic development, transportation and public works, including infrastructure improvements for roadways, water and sewer, and much more.
The administration and internal service funds include areas that support the operations of county government, such as finance, human resources, information technology, the Corporate Capital Improvement Program, and more.
Only 1% of our budget is for payments on debt for capital projects. This reflects the County Board’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and the “pay as you go” philosophy.